Can CJ McCollum step up with Damian Lillard out?
On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we talk about Damian Lillard being out for the next few games, the development of Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, whether criticism of CJ McCollum is justified, and make predictions for the next three games.
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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a nice, long break during the NBA's All-Star festivities and now they have 26 games left in the regular season to achieve their goal of making the playoffs.
To get there, they'll have to make up some ground with the eighth-place Grizzlies holding a four-game lead in the standings over the Blazers. And they'll have to start that pursuit without their best player.
The biggest question for Portland is Damian Lillard's health. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported last Thursday he'd miss a week or two with a strained groin. A couple days ago during a radio interview, head coach Terry Stotts said, "maybe a week, maybe a month." Then on Thursday, KGW's Orlando Sanchez reported that Lillard said he'll likely miss three to five games.
The next few games will be a tough stretch for the Blazers without Lillard. The next three games are at home, but they're against the Pelicans, who are 3-0 against Portland this season; the Celtics, one of the best teams in the East; and the Pistons, which gives Portland a chance at a victory. Then a road trip begins against a talented Pacers team with star guard Victor Oladipo back in its lineup.
After these four games, the Blazers have an easy schedule down the stretch and two head-to-head matchups at home against the Grizzlies. So there's still hope. But there's so little margin for error right now, losing Lillard even for the next few games could push the Blazers too far back to rally.
Nipping on the Blazers' heels are the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans. Both of those teams have easy schedules down the stretch, just like the Blazers, and they're not dealing with the kind of injuries that are plaguing Portland.
On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we talk about Damian Lillard being out the next few games, the development of Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, whether criticism of CJ McCollum is justified, and make predictions for the next three games.